How to Get Diesel Smell Out of Your Clothes and Hands: 15 Tips

Multicolor diesel spill on asphalt.

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Some smells are hard to eliminate from the air. Cooking bacon for breakfast means that’s what your house smells like all day. Imagine you work hard all day in the garage on your favorite off-roader and some fuel gets your shirt. The odor can linger for days despite multiple washes. How can you mitigate the scent? Here’s how to get diesel out of clothes and the smell off your hands.

Two red cans of diesel fuel.

How Do You Get the Diesel Smell Out of Your Clothes?

Diesel has slowly evaporating sulfur compounds that can stay in fibers.

So, how do you get the smell out of your clothing?

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Recall how your parents and grandparents washed your old baseball uniform back in the day. The dirt and grass stains needed something strong, such as baking soda and vinegar. This combination is potent because each ingredient breaks down odors.  

Combine equal parts vinegar and baking soda — about ⅓ cup each — and put the mixture in your washing machine. Add your clothes and detergent and wash as usual. It may take a few tries, but the smell will disappear because of the vinegar and baking soda potency. 

Bottles of vinegar and baking soda next to a sponge, toothbrush and lemon.

2. Baking Soda and Cola

You likely already have baking soda and cola and home. Use drinks like Coca-Cola because they have citric and phosphoric acids inside them. The acidic nature of Coke is why many use it as a degreaser. The acid reacts with oil to loosen and dissolve it from the surface.

Fill your washing machine with water to soak your diesel clothes. After a couple of hours, replace with a new water supply and add two liters of cola to the basket with a pound of baking soda. Soak the clothes overnight, then drain them in the morning before washing them. The diesel smell will disappear. 

3. Ammonia

Ammonia has a standard pH level of 11, making it a base. It’s an alkaline substance that effectively mitigates that pesky diesel smell. 

You can find bottles of ammonia at the store, but be careful when using this substance. Prolonged exposure can irritate your skin, lungs, eyes and more.  

Take a quarter cup of ammonia and pour it into a bucket of warm water. Mix to dissolve. Soak your clothes in this mixture for about 30 minutes, then wash your clothes as usual. 

4. Fast Orange

Those wondering how to get the diesel smell out of their clothes may need hand-cleaning methods. Fast Orange has become a popular deodorizer because it removes stains from your hands and clothes. It uses ingredients like glycerin, lanolin and aloe. 

Add your clothes to the washing machine and fill it with water. Apply a tablespoon of Fast Orange and wash as usual. The powerful cleaner rids grease and the diesel smell.

5. Heavy-duty Washing Detergent

Sometimes, it’s necessary to call in the big guys. You may need heavy-duty washing detergent to get rid of the diesel smell. These cleaners are more potent because they’re industrial strength. They’re typically more concentrated with enzymes to increase their potency. 

For diesel smells, use heavy-duty washing detergent in pretreatment and regular washes. Fill a bucket with water, dirty clothes and heavy-duty detergent. Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours before using the washing machine. Be sure to use your heavy-duty detergent when you do.  

6. Rubbing Alcohol

Remember when you fell off your skateboard and scraped your knee? Your parents lectured you about wearing knee pads while applying rubbing alcohol to the wound. It’s hard to forget the burn, but rubbing alcohol is an excellent cleaner. 

Rubbing alcohol is effective because it quickly evaporates when exposed to air. Thus, it eliminates odors by removing moisture from the surface and stunting bacterial growth. Try it with your dirty clothes. 

Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and baking soda into a bowl to form a paste. Apply it to your clothes and scrub everywhere. You may need to repeat it several times, but the process is an effective DIY solution. 

7. Bathroom Cleaners

Powerful cleaners may be necessary to get the lingering smells out — even if you resort to unconventional methods. Try using bathroom cleaners to get diesel out of clothes. For example, consider products like Pine-Sol or Lysol’s all-purpose cleaner. They’re effective at removing oil-based stains from your garments. 

Put your clothes in the washing machine with your regular detergent. Add a half-cup of bathroom cleaner and wash the clothes. The potency of bathroom floor cleaners should remove the diesel smell. 

8. Essential Oils

Essential oils have become popular because studies show they reduce anxiety, and people like how they smell. If you’re in a pinch, try using them when removing the diesel smell. 

A popular method for removing the diesel smell is using eucalyptus oil. Ensure the producer distills or compresses the essential oil to ensure it’s pure and potent. Put the clothes in the washing machine and fill it with warm water. Add about 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to your machine and continue washing. 

How Do You Get the Diesel Smell Out of Your Hands?

If you don’t like the diesel smell, you can change your clothes for a temporary fix. However, you can’t change your hands. Imagine going on a date and all your partner can smell is diesel.

So, how can you get the diesel smell off your hands?

1. White Vinegar

Vinegar doesn’t have the most pleasant smell. You may use it to clean coffee makers, sheet pans and other kitchen items. However, you can also wash your hands with it. 

White vinegar is an effective solution for diesel-smelling hands. Like lemon juice, it’s powerful when combined with alkaline substances. Pour white vinegar onto your hands and rub for a minute. Ensure you get it under every crevice and fingernail before rinsing.  

2. Vanilla Extract

When you think of vanilla extract, you likely imagine cooking and baking. A few drops of vanilla extract in your pancakes make a huge difference in your breakfast. It’s also a game-changer for your hands. 

The process is pretty simple. All you need to do is add drops of vanilla extract to a water container large enough to fit your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly, checking to see if the smell is gone. After a few rounds of washing, you should only smell vanilla on your hands. Wash with soap and water to neutralize the vanilla smell. 

Bottle of vanilla extract.

3. Hand Soap and Salt

This method may seem odd, but hand soap traps the oil and grease from your skin, and salt removes moisture from clothing. Think about how salt draws dehydrates food, making it a terrific preservative people have used for centuries. 

Mix equal parts hand soap and table salt to create a deodorizing mixture. Rub your hands with it, ensuring you don’t have cuts. You know what they say about salt and wounds. 

4. Lemon Juice

Another solid deodorizer for your hands is lemon juice. You likely have some in the fridge, so it can be a good substitute if you need a strong cleaner. Lemon juice is highly acidic, making it excellent at neutralizing odors. Many household cleaners use it to react with alkaline compounds, but you can use it alone.

Wash your hands with water and soap, then dry off. Pour lemon juice onto your hands and thoroughly rub. Don’t rinse yet — wait about five minutes to let the juice soak in.

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste makes your breath smell fresh before that big first date and rids the diesel smell from your hands. It may be messy, but it’s worth the trouble. 

Many types of toothpaste contain calcium carbonate and other abrasive substances that eliminate stains and odor. Apply your typical toothpaste amount to both hands. Rub for at least 30 seconds and rinse it off. Your hands will smell closer to peppermint than diesel. 

6. Dish Soap

A few years ago, Dawn’s marketing campaign showed rescue workers using its dish soap to clean animals in oil spills. The dish soap is good enough for ducks, turtles and other animals, so try it for your diesel hands. 

Use warm water in your sink and wash your hands with dish soap. It may help to fill a bucket with water and soap and soak your hands for a few minutes. 

Woman pressing on a bottle of hand soap.

7. Hand Sanitizer

Sometimes, you can’t access the soaps and detergents in your kitchen and laundry room. In a pinch, you may resort to hand sanitizer. Bring a small bottle in your vehicle or put some in your garage if you get diesel on your hands. 

Hand sanitizers contain alcohol that kills bacteria on your skin. Their primary purpose isn’t deodorizing, but it’s practical because of its antimicrobial properties. Rub hand sanitizer for about two minutes, then wash your hands with water and soap. 

Ditch the Diesel Smell

Some people enjoy the smell of diesel, but it gets bothersome after it soaks into your clothes and hands. You don’t want to show up to a date or your in-laws’ house smelling like a gas station. Use these 15 remedies to banish the odor.

Diesel spill on concrete.

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